I have to recommend Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World by Don Tapscott. I found it excellent preparation for back to school, both for understanding my students and giving extra insight into the group dynamics of my co-workers. It’s also a handy guide for those who wish to market to NetGen, a group who demand choice, flexibility, transparency, integrity and ‘fun’ as customers and employees.
Tapscott is a futurist, interested in how people born in different eras think. He divides the generations into cohorts and examines their corresponding values and favoured technologies. This book concentrates on three groups and the relationships between them: Baby Boomers, Generation X and the Net Generation (NetGen), the largest cohort in North America, also called the ‘Boom Echo.’
Tapscott’s earlier book, Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation, followed the childhood and teen years of NetGen, the first to grow up with ubiquitous internet access and a taste for gaming and online social networking.
This latest book concentrates on how NetGeners affect everything as they enter the workforce and political arena.
Overall the book is well-written, well-documented and easily understood by the layperson. It’s major flaw is repetition which is ironic in a book which claims drill and repetition to be anathema to NetGen. Perhaps this redundancy is intended to assist Baby Boomers? In any case, I found it tiring to read the same points in different chapters.
Tapscott uses anecdotes and interviews to elucidate his points. My favorite parts include the rebuttals NetGen have made to typical Boomer accusations. Boomers call NetGeners lazy, dishonest, uneducated and undisciplined, accusing them of stealing music, plagiarising remorselessly and failing to use correct English.
Tapscott comes down firmly in favour of NetGen. They are smarter, do more and know more than previous generations. NetGen works and thinks differently than its parent’s generation. NetGen refuses to be the passive recipient of information, it critiques authority and demands greater choice and flexibility in all areas. NetGen’s social engagement, cosmopolitan outlook and charitable works bode well for the future.
If you are interested in understanding the generation gap and generation lap and finding out how the giant NetGen cohort will affect society, I suggest reading Tapscott’s book. You can always skim over the repetitive parts and visit his project on FaceBook. It’s what Tapscott predicts the Net Geners will do anyway.